J7.2 Providing sea ice and weather outlooks to Indigenous Hunters to insure a safe hunt

Thursday, 27 January 2011: 8:45 AM
4C-4 (Washington State Convention Center)
Gary L. Hufford, NOAA/NWS, Anchorage, AK; and G. C. Ray
Manuscript (126.3 kB)

A request was received from the Alaska Eskimo Walrus Commission to provide sea ice conditions and weather outlooks for four northern Bering Sea indigenous villages to insure the safety of the hunters during the 2010 spring walrus hunt. A partnership was established between National Weather Service, Alaska Region, the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, University of Alaska Fairbanks, NOAA Office of Science and Technology, and the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S (ARCUS). A proof-of-concept project was established called the Sea Ice Walrus Outlook (SIWO) where a five and ten day forecast and outlook for sea ice conditions and weather was produced every Friday from the beginning of April to the end of the hunting season (June 25). The main source of information used to produce the SIWO forecast and outlook involved a combination of NOAA Climate Prediction Center numerical model guidance, high resolution satellite imagery (250 m MODIS, and 10 and 100m RadarSat), and local forecasts from the NWS Fairbanks Forecast Office. A web site was created and maintained by ARCUS (www.arcus.org/search/siwo) to get the weekly SIWO forecast and outlook to the villages, which all had Internet. The web site also provided a forum for two-way collaboration and information flow between the forecaster and the village hunters.

To successfully accomplish the task of the SIWO involved the interaction between the NWS, academia, ice experts, and the Yupik and Inupiaq hunters. A key factor in the success was the sharing of local/indigenous knowledge of environmental conditions around each of the villages.

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